Costa Georgiadis talks Transitions Film Festival

A growing movement of forward-thinking green thumbs and environmental enthusiasts will descend on Adelaide this month when Transitions Film Festival hits town, planting itself at Mercury Cinema through October and November.

A growing movement of forward-thinking green thumbs and environmental enthusiasts will descend on Adelaide this month when Transitions Film Festival hits town, planting itself at Mercury Cinema through October and November.

Australia’s largest sustainability film festival, the program features stories from the US, Calcutta, the Amazon rainforest as well as our own backyard, literally.

Alongside a select crop of film screenings, the festival will feature a range of guest speakers from academic, agricultural and scientific backgrounds, including Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis.

“Film is such a valuable medium for getting these ideas across, I’m keen to see how people are telling stories,” Georgiadis says. “Some of these movies and docos aren’t necessarily driving and pushing a point, but they’re capturing a feeling and showing us a different way of doing things.”

Across the festival program, the featured filmmakers explore a diverse range of topics, from innovative renewable energy solutions in US director Brett Mazurek’s The Future of Energy to journalist Shannon Harvey’s quest to solve our ever-escalating healthcare needs in The Connection. Elsewhere, Musicwood sees guitar luthiers from three of America’s biggest guitar companies (Gibson, Taylor and Martin) delve into America’s primeval rainforests to find a sustainable and responsible forestry solution to keep making acoustic guitars. Georgiadis will be speaking at the Sunday, November 9 screening of Growing Cities, a US documentary that sees director Dan Susman embark on a road trip across North America in a cross-country quest to unearth the innovative homegrown food solutions of industrious American communities. While Australia can learn a lot from US cities, according to Georgiadis, there are a few important differences for local growers.

“Over in the US some cities really suffered with the financial crisis and had this real atrophy happen on their edges, leaving bulk land empty and available,” he explains. Amongst the sprawl of Australia, however, such open space is less common. “What’s going on in Australia is a movement where people just want to grow things – there’s a real spike in interest of wanting to know what they’re eating and where it’s coming from. That’s breeding this interest in growing your own food, growing seasonal food and growing it near you.”

With less disused land, however, our avid urban growers have to be far more versatile, taking advantage of every square inch of space available in courtyards, balconies and even rooftops.

“The traditional backyard that used to exist for many people growing up in Australia has slowly but surely been reduced and reduced. As a consequence, people are taking notice of that 400mm in the back laneway, or the spare bit of land between the fence and the footpath. They’re starting to look at the space differently. They’re thinking, this is public land, why shouldn’t I, as a citizen, look at making it more viable?”

In Adelaide, we’ve seen several such initiatives already underway, from the Brompton Community Garden to more recent community farming project Wagtail Farm, whose founder Nat Wiseman will join Georgiadis to speak at Transitions Film Festival. These sorts of start-ups are just a glimpse of the many and varied ways in which people around the country are exploring new ways to grow and trade food.

“There’s a site that started in Adelaide called RipeNear.Me, where anyone can say, ‘Look, I’m growing beans at the moment and I live in X location, if you want beans jump on board then I’ll swap you, sell some or, if I’ve had my full, you can just come and take them away,’” he explains. “While using existing technology that only requires a click of the mouse they’re reducing council costs by creating less waste, reducing food miles and getting people connected, making a better and safer place to live.”

For Georgiadis, the extra level of social cohesion and community generated by these sorts of communal growing projects are a welcome bonus.

“They’re keeping and exposing local people to local food but in the process it’s creating employment pathways too and keeping all this money local.”

Across the country, Georgiadis has seen the burgeoning interest in locally grown produce lead to an explosion of markets, food swaps and community projects that are giving Australians an alternative to the usual supermarket food economy.

“I’m seeing them pop up everywhere, from the Gold Coast to the Riverina, and from South Australia to Mildura,” he says. “We’ve had weekend markets become successful enough to branch out into mid-week events, which creates extra food-buying opportunities at a time when most people are buying food during the week after school and after work.

“It’s been going great guns!”

Transitions Film Festival

Mercury Cinema

Friday, November 7 to Wednesday, November 19

Adelaide In-depth

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